Palm oil, the new cure?

This is written by a colleague at Penang Bureau, Looi Sue-Chern.  

GEORGE TOWN: Palm oil is set to shed its negative image as more scientific researches on the commodity revealed its potential as a cure for many illnesses. Plantation, Industries and Commodities Minister Tan Sri Bernard Dompok said research had revealed that the commodity provided a natural remedy to many ailments including fatty liver and stroke.

He said such positive developments could offset misconceptions about palm oil.

"While the government continues to work on how the industry can increase its productivity in a more sustainable manner without using more land, such new researches will open doors to new possibilities and markets. Although the industry has been accused of being environmentally unfriendly, it is also a source of renewable energy such as biogas and biomass." 

He was speaking after a presentation by Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM) researchers Dr Enrico Magosso and Professor Ibrahim Lutfi Shuaib on the use of palm tocotrienols (palm Vitamin E) in treating non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) and preventing stroke.

Palm oil is to date the richest source of tocotrienol, the superior form of Vitamin E that is high in antioxidants.

Tocotrienols obtained the Self-Affirmed GRAS (Generally Regarded as Safe) status in September 2007 from the US Food and Drug Administration. 

Apart from being used in food like margarine, salad dressing, mayonnaise and potato chips, tocotrienol has also been proven to contain anti-cancer properties as well as neuro and vascular protective properties. 

Dr Magosso, an Italian researcher from USM's School of Pharmaceutical Sciences, said after a one-year clinical trial on 64 volunteers suffering from NAFLD, 20 out of 30 patients treated with tocotrienol showed improvements with 15 being cured. 

He said although more studies must be conducted to convince people that tocotrienol works, the discovery had presented an answer to NAFLD, a silent disease that affects 90 per cent of diabetic and obese people of all ages and 60 per cent of Malaysians with high-cholesterol. 

"This natural remedy has proven effective in treating NAFLD and has every potential to be the treatment of choice. The market opportunity of 500 million people worldwide is vast for Malaysia, which is the world's second largest palm oil producer."

Tocotrienol has also proven to work in preventing stroke, the nation's third largest cause of death after heart diseases and cancer. 

Ibrahim Lutfi said, in a two-year study on 1,000 people with white matter lesion, a neuronal damage in the brain that is related to stroke, five out of seven subjects who were treated with tocotrienol showed improvements. 

"Only one subject out of the remaining three, who received placebo treatments, showed improvements while the condition of the other two deteriorated.  

We hope tocotrienol, when used widely in the field of medicine, will have a positive impact in neuro treatment and prevention of cardiovascular diseases," said Ibrahim Lutfi, who is from USM's School of Advanced Medical and Dental Institute.

One Response to Palm oil, the new cure?

  1. PALM OIL, a kind of medium chain triglyceride (MCT) oil, helps reduce risks of Alzheimer's and prevents obesity.

    I have been researching on palm oil and palm kernel oil for a while now (and I'm not talking about Wikipedia).

    Generally speaking, the public is SO MISINFORMED about palm oil and palm kernel oil thinking they are unhealthy fats. Palm kernel oil consists of medium chain fatty acid or medium chain triglycerides (MCT). Around 50% of these MCT’s are made up of lauric acid, the most important essential fatty acid in building and maintaining the body’s immune system.

    The only other food source with the same concentrations of lauric acid is breast milk. Our bodies use it for fuel immediately and it is never stored as fat.

    Palm oil is a saturated fat, which means it’s solid at room temperature. It has a very low melting point and can melt to almost clear liquid in the summer months…which by the way doesn’t hurt it at all.

    Palm oil is a very shelf stable oil, unlike many other cooking oils out there. It can be stored, unrefrigerated for months and doesn't turn rancid that easily.

    Palm and coconut oils were the primary oils used in processed foods up until the early 1960’s when the soybean industry started a very negative ad campaign to turn consumers against ‘tropical oils'. The truth is that the tropical oils, including coconut oil, are the healthiest oil choices out there.

    Palm oil, according to an English scientist and author Dr Bruce Fife, promotes heart health, lower cholesterol, support proper thyroid function, help normalize blood sugar, help normalize weight, have anti-viral, anti-bacterial, anti-microbial and anti-protozoal qualities. In addition it is fabulous to use on your skin.

    I read somewhere that 2-3 tablespoons of red palm oil a day gets you the optimal health benefits, but I know people that do a lot less than that, too.

    There are many different manufacturers out there and I have used the Smart Balance brand. I liked Smart Balance because of the smell and taste.

    I have heard a lot of talk by brain scientists that ketogenic diet which incorporates MCT oils [which are essentially krill (a kind of fish) oil and tropical vegetable oils like palm and coconut] to treat Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s.

    Until recently, I never really had any first hand knowledge of any of these treatments. But six months ago I met a friend. She said doctors in Puerto Rico treated her mother’s Alzheimer's with ketogenic diet incorporating tropical vegetable oils and they are seeing improvement in her mother's memory retention.

    Since then, I’ve also learnt about a man with Parkinson’s having success in calming his hand tremors after undergoing a ketogenic diet that incorporates MCT oils.

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